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Is it possible to for a PhD application to be considered for Masters (same subject) as well ?


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I have two Masters degrees from Indian colleges (MBA & MS). I am in the process of applying for PhD. Some universities I am applying to advice to write to professors and then mention the conversation in the personal statement (to show commitment to the program).
 
The professors have been either not responding or giving one line replies '..it is unlikely that I'll be taking students for Fall, 2015'.
 
I am beginning to doubt my chances of getting into a PhD. The admissions are not just hard, but it also seems like a lot depends on chance.
 
Since I really want to get into grad school this fall, I was thinking of applying to both Masters and PhD programs. Is there a possibility that my application would be considered for both MS and PhD?
Edited by thegraydude
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The short answer is yes. In some fields (fields that offer unfunded masters), sometimes schools will first make all funded PhD offers to students that it has space/money for, and then offer unfunded masters programs to some of the remaining applicants. It's unlikely this will happen if the program you are applying to does not offer terminal masters degrees at all.

 

However, whether or not it's a good idea to take an unfunded masters offer depends on you and what you want to achieve! 

 

Also, professors that say "it is unlikely that I will be taking students for Fall 2015" is usually a bad sign. If all of the professors you are interested in at a school say that, then I would not apply there! Keep reaching out until you find professors that are interested in you.

 

Finally, yes, grad school admission (and almost everything else beyond grad school) is based a lot on chance. For example, the amount of students that are accepted into my program varies each year based on the number of students accepted in previous years and amount of funding available. Thus, it's possible that the exact same applicant can be accepted in 2012 but rejected in 2013. You do need a little bit of luck! The best way to mitigate this is to apply to a larger number of schools.

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The short answer is yes. In some fields (fields that offer unfunded masters), sometimes schools will first make all funded PhD offers to students that it has space/money for, and then offer unfunded masters programs to some of the remaining applicants. It's unlikely this will happen if the program you are applying to does not offer terminal masters degrees at all.

These schools do have an MS program in the same field that I'm applying to PhD for. So considering that, would you say I would be offered to be enrolled into MS if rejected for PhD?

 

Do I need to intimate them in some way that I could be considered for MS, if not for PhD? Or do I just need to sit tight, and they would make this offer -if available- on their own?

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These schools do have an MS program in the same field that I'm applying to PhD for. So considering that, would you say I would be offered to be enrolled into MS if rejected for PhD?

 

Do I need to intimate them in some way that I could be considered for MS, if not for PhD? Or do I just need to sit tight, and they would make this offer -if available- on their own?

 

Sometimes the application asks you if you would consider a MS program if you don't get an offer for a PhD program. From talking to other graduate students, I find that the unfunded MS offer comes on its own if they want to offer you a MS admit. However, if you are worried about not being considered for the MS program if you don't get into a PhD program, you should ask each specific program ahead of time whether or not you should send in a separate MS application, or if you should indicate you are applying for both MS and PhD program in your application etc. 

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Sometimes the application asks you if you would consider a MS program if you don't get an offer for a PhD program. From talking to other graduate students, I find that the unfunded MS offer comes on its own if they want to offer you a MS admit. However, if you are worried about not being considered for the MS program if you don't get into a PhD program, you should ask each specific program ahead of time whether or not you should send in a separate MS application, or if you should indicate you are applying for both MS and PhD program in your application etc. 

I fear that mentioning explicitly anywhere on the application, that I could be considered for an MS as well, would make my PhD application appear "insincere". I want the admissions committee to consider me a serious PhD applicant, not someone who will take anything you throw at him. 

 

Also, if the admissions committee realizes they could get me in without funding as well, then, I fear, they will offer funding (PhD) to someone else who is looking exclusively for PhD, and look to hire me into paid MS.

 

So explicitly bringing to the adcomm's attention that they could get me into MS as well, will be detrimental for my chances of a funded PhD, I believe. Wouldn't you agree?

Edited by thegraydude
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I definitely agree that might be the case. But if there is a requirement to let them know in order to be considered for a MS program, then you are missing out if you don't let them know. For me, this risk was not present because I do not want to be in any unfunded MS programs so I didn't mention it since I won't miss out on a MS.

 

So, it's a matter of what's more important to you. In my opinion, unfunded MS degrees are not really worth it, so I would not mention it at all. 

 

However, you can always email the department admin staff to ask the question and the conversation probably will not be sent to the admission committee. Also, you can use a different email address and not identify yourself if you are really worried.

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I fear that mentioning explicitly anywhere on the application, that I could be considered for an MS as well, would make my PhD application appear "insincere". I want the admissions committee to consider me a serious PhD applicant, not someone who will take anything you throw at him. 

 

Also, if the admissions committee realizes they could get me in without funding as well, then, I fear, they will offer funding (PhD) to someone else who is looking exclusively for PhD, and look to hire me into paid MS.

 

So explicitly bringing to the adcomm's attention that they could get me into MS as well, will be detrimental for my chances of a funded PhD, I believe. Wouldn't you agree?

My ex GF applied to seven Ph.D. programs.  She was denied to all seven programs but two of them asked her if she would consider their Master's program.  She said yes to both, then chose one.  Last year, one of the Ph.D. programs I was denied to said they would have admitted me into their Master's program had it not been for something screwy in my SOP.  

 

One of the programs I have been talking to this year told me that students who are denied into the Ph.D. program are automatically considered for the Master's (funded) program and that students from the Master's program can move directly into the Ph.D. with a little bit of petitioning if their advisor thinks they are ready to do so.  He also explicitly stated that applicants applying to the Master's program who indicate that their ultimate goal is a Ph.D. have the greatest chance of admittance (assuming their applications were acceptable for admittance, of course). 

 

I believe that indicating you are willing to do a Master's first is not a sign of settling, but instead a sign of serious intentions as long as you clearly state that earning a Ph.D. is the ultimate goal.  I think it would say a lot about the seriousness of your intentions if you are willing to travel from India to the U.S. to earn a Master's degree. 

 

One thing that might hinder you is that you already have an MBA and an MS.  

 

I would suggest that you apply to Ph.D. programs and indicate in your SOP that you are willing to accept a spot in their Master's program if offered but that your ultimate goal is a Ph.D.  It only takes one sentence. 

Edited by Crucial BBQ
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However, you can always email the department admin staff to ask the question and the conversation probably will not be sent to the admission committee. Also, you can use a different email address and not identify yourself if you are really worried.

I sent them said email. Here's their reply:

 

"We can put a note in our system to have your application file moved to the MS admissions review in the event you are not admitted to the Ph.D. program.  After you submit your application, it would be helpful if you send us an email reminding us that you want to be considered for the Ph.D. program first and if you are not admitted to the Ph.D. program, you would like to be considered for the MS program."

 

So I guess this route is safe? I just don't want the adcomm to find out about this.

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One of the programs I have been talking to this year told me that students who are denied into the Ph.D. program are automatically considered for the Master's (funded) program and that students from the Master's program can move directly into the Ph.D. with a little bit of petitioning if their advisor thinks they are ready to do so.  He also explicitly stated that applicants applying to the Master's program who indicate that their ultimate goal is a Ph.D. have the greatest chance of admittance (assuming their applications were acceptable for admittance, of course). 

Thank you for this information! I appreciate it!

 

 

I believe that indicating you are willing to do a Master's first is not a sign of settling, but instead a sign of serious intentions as long as you clearly state that earning a Ph.D. is the ultimate goal.  I think it would say a lot about the seriousness of your intentions if you are willing to travel from India to the U.S. to earn a Master's degree. 

 

One thing that might hinder you is that you already have an MBA and an MS.  

 

I would suggest that you apply to Ph.D. programs and indicate in your SOP that you are willing to accept a spot in their Master's program if offered but that your ultimate goal is a Ph.D.  It only takes one sentence. 

It depends on the person in the adcomm considering the application. He/she might consider me "desperate" for entry into the university (as I already have two masters), and view this as a sign of me being diffident about my PhD application.

 

I think it would be better not mentioning this explicitly in my SOP (I don't want to take a chance), but mentioning it to some clerical staff in my email to the admissions department. That way, the adcomm won't find out about it while considering my PhD application, hopefully.

Edited by thegraydude
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It sounds like you have your answer (at least for that school). I agree that the best people to communicate this to would be the administrative staff in the department that you are applying to. 

 

Note however, that although this puts an extra layer between you and the admissions committee, it's pretty common for the administrative staff to communicate with the professors on the admissions committee about the applicants. But I would not worry about this because you literally cannot have it both ways! I think if you want to be sure that you will be considered for the MS program, you have to trust that this information won't influence your PhD decision.

 

And in honesty, I don't see why the professors would use this information against you. As CrucialBBQ said, this does show your determination in the program. But they also know that students prefer funded PhD programs. If they think you are good enough to be a PhD student, then they will make you an offer, because if they don't, they will risk another school making you a funded offer and then they won't have you. Graduate students do cost money, but if a school wants you, they are not going to think "well, we might get him for free if he takes the unfunded MS offer". 

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You are right. I can't have it both ways. I will let the admissions staff know about considering my application for both, and hope for the best.

 

Thank you so much for your help TakeruK and CrucialBBQ!!  I feel a lot more confident about what I need to do!!

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